The Senate voted to acquit former President Donald Trump Saturday of charges that he incited an insurrection on January 6.
The Senate voted 57-43, meaning that the chamber failed to clear the 67-vote threshold necessary to convict Trump of the charge that he incited an insurrection on January 6, when Congress was certifying the 2020 presidential election.
Seven Senate Republicans voted to convict Trump of inciting an insurrection, including Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Ben Sasse (R-NE).
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on the Senate floor after the vote that Trump’s actions before and on January 6 were a “disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty.” However, McConnell did vote to acquit the president.
“Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty,” Cassidy said in a statement Saturday after the vote.
Burr, who is retiring in 2022, said in a statement after the vote that he believes Trump “is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
In contrast, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who voted to acquit Trump, said:
The House Impeachment Managers launched an unconstitutional show trial to humiliate the former President and his supporters. The Impeachment Managers have accomplished nothing but to extend the pain of the American people. They achieved one thing – Donald J. Trump’s acquittal.
“With this trial, I fear Democrats have sent a dangerous precedent that enables any former President to be subjected to this spectacle, all in the name of political theater. The people of Wyoming deserve better,” Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) said after voting to acquit Trump.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who voted to convict Trump, said in a statement after the vote:
Former President Donald Trump betrayed his oath willfully, as no president has before. He incited a violent insurrection against his own government because he did not like the outcome of a free and fair election. What is at stake today is the future of our democracy and whether we will be a country that fiercely protects democracy, or let it slip away to claims of party loyalty.
The second impeachment trial moved swiftly through the House after the January 6 riots. The House voted in mid-January to impeach Trump for the second time.
However, unlike the first vote to impeach Trump, this time 10 House Republicans joined with Democrats to impeach the 45th president.
The list includes Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Rep. Peter Meijer (MI), Rep. Fred Upton (MI), Rep. Liz Cheney (WY), Rep. John Katko (NY), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL), Rep. Tom Rice (SC), Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (WA), Rep. Dan Newhouse (WA), and Rep. David Valadao (CA).
Cheney’s vote to impeach Trump enflamed the House GOP in controversy, as many House conservatives such as Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Matt Rosendale (R-MT), and Andy Biggs (R-AZ) moved to oust her as the House GOP Conference chair.
Cheney survived her leadership challenge by House conservatives, although she remains unpopular in her home state, according to a recently released poll.
The Senate voted on the first day of the trial that it is constitutional to impeach a former president after he leaves office. Many Senate Republicans argued that impeaching a former president is not only unconstitutional, but it would also set a dangerous precedent.
Today’s vote marks the second time that Trump has escaped conviction from the Senate after a House Democrat majority voted to impeach Trump. House Democrats voted to impeach Trump the first time, accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The Senate impeachment trial took a dramatic turn Saturday morning as the Senate voted to have additional witnesses testify. Five Senate Republicans, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) voted yes.
Senators wanted more information about a reported call between Trump and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). During the alleged call, which was first mentioned by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Trump said that the rioters cared more about election fraud than McCarthy did.
Trump defense attorney Michael van der Veen said that if Democrats want more witnesses, he needs to depose House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) – not by Zoom but in Philadelphia – and Vice President Kamala Harris. Van der Veen said he would need up to 100 depositions.
The Senate vote enraged many Republicans, such as Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Ernst, the Senate GOP vice chair, called the vote a “total, total shit show.”
She called the approval of additional witnesses a “tool of revenge” against the 45th president.
The Iowa conservative then promised that if Democrats wished to extend the impeachment trial against Trump, they will also drag out the trial. She also promised to block the consideration of potential nominees.
“If they want to drag this out, we’ll drag it out. They won’t get their noms, they won’t get anything,” Ernst said.
“Dems had agreed to know [sic] witnesses, then House Managers changed their mind this morning. Schumer blindsided. Pandemonium. They’re negotiating now to figure out next steps,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said in a statement on Saturday.
However, the impeachment trial took an even more dramatic turn when the House Democrat impeachment managers and the Trump legal team struck a deal Saturday afternoon that would bypass additional witness testimony.
Trump’s acquittal allows for the Senate to focus on confirming additional nominees for Biden’s administration and passing a COVID relief package.
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.